3 Steps in Adding Value to Job Descriptions

Hirra Pervaiz

Are your job descriptions (JDs) adding value to your organization? Are your JDs serving their intended purpose? Most importantly, are your JDs up-to-date? These are some of the questions that pose certain challenges for the HR personnel. They serve to keep all employees aligned to the organizational goals, thus adding value to the organization.

Job descriptions are a much talked about subject in the HR field. The topic always remains in the limelight due to its utmost importance, not only for HR but for the organization as a whole. JDs lay down the foundations for conveying the roles and responsibilities across the organization, giving each employee the work plan and explaining what is expected from him on the job and how he can contribute to the organization.

JDs are the cornerstone of the HR activities, as they describe all of the tasks, responsibilities, and roles that an individual is expected to perform on the job. Nearly all HR functions depend a great deal on the effectiveness of a JD as it is central to each HR function. The transition of HR from qualitative administration to quantitative has an impact on all the practices of HR; JDs being one of them. The transition in JDs is from a traditional role and responsibility descriptor to a "competency based" complete job profile instrument.

Competencies are the skills that are necessary or required in the proper functioning of a job. In fact, these are the skills that define the job and complete the profile of a job. Traditional JDs have been a mere instrument for describing the responsibilities alone, however the competency based JD gives a more quantifiable outlook to the JD which essentially gives the HR personnel and edge in mapping and assessment of the performance of the job holder. The competency based job description also provides the guide for jobholders to perform better with the changing business dynamics and changing requirements of the job. This always helps keep strategies and employees aligned with organizational goals, thus helping the overall organizational effectiveness.

Competency based JDs are central to all the HR functions that deal with the human capital management and development, starting from the recruitment cycle to performance management to training and development. The first crucial step for HR is effective recruitment that would help build a skillful workforce—one that would ultimately be a source of competitive advantage for the organization. Mapping the competencies required to perform a job to the skills of the individual that is being considered for the job gives HR professionals a means to recruit effectively. This would also help in building competency based interviews, thus assessing the individual more closely to the job profile and recruiting the best match.

Secondly, competency based job descriptions also help with performance management. With the help of these, the performance of the jobholders can be quantified and the process of assessment can be made easier. The measurement of the performance would be much easier and also would provide room for the development of the individual against the performance indicators, which would have shown negative results against the competencies required.

The third phase where competency based JDs are an asset is within employee training and development. With identification of the weak areas, proper training can help build the essential competencies and can help in building the succession plan for the company. Hence it can be said that competency based job descriptions and competencies are at the core of major HR functions.

Building a competency based JD has many advantages in itself. To steps required to build a competency based JD that is aligned with the organizational goals are as follows

  1. Identification of the Knowledge and Skills framework against each Job Profile
  2. Mapping of professional competencies and job requirements with the organizational goals
  3. Making use of the development review process in shaping and keeping of competencies up-to date.

Competencies are essential for personnel development and planning process, which in turn serve as a feedback to be included in the job descriptions that make them more meaningful and to give an accurate picture of the job’s performance requirements.

JDs play an important role in every organizational setup. To make your JDs more meaningful, the competency based JD approach needs to be adopted. It not only adds value to the JD alone, it gives the organization a competitive edge in aligning human capital to the organizational goals, hence strengthening the effectiveness of the organization in an ever-changing environment.